Come January, the National Restoration just might begin – a restoration of voting integrity, of the rule of law, of checks and balances, of strengthened treaties with our long-time allies, of rededication to environmental health, of renewed respect for science and facts.
Time to make America decent again, sane again, democratic again.
But will that restoration actually begin? Yes, but probably only with “baby steps.”
A “Blue Wave” did indeed sweep the nation. The United States House of Representatives will be Democrat-controlled. However, if Democrats are wise, they had better not act like hot-shot vigilantes itching to impeach the president.
What they should do, from Day One, is get to work to pass whatever legislation they can, to fulfill the promises that brought them victory. That’s a tall order, though, considering the Republicans still control the Senate and the president has the power of the veto. There is the possibility, however remote at this time, that the president and Republicans might join the Democrats in some legislative efforts.
The real power now in the House is to put the kibosh on Trump’s most extremist proposals. Never mind impeachment threats. The best way to put the brakes on the president’s crazier notions is to work aggressively on the following issues so a full restoration can begin in 2020 if Democrats take full control. And, just maybe, the president and Republicans might join the Democrats in some legislative efforts.
One: Retain Nancy Pelosi as House majority leader. A master legislative tactician, she knows exactly how to herd cats to get legislation approved. In this critical time, the Democrats must let leadership stay in Pelosi’s expert hands and not take a chance on a newcomer.
Two: Protect the Mueller investigation. If they cannot prevent his firing or crippling, they should accelerate House committee investigations concerning the president.
Three: Push to reunite immigrant children and parents ripped apart at the border.
Four: Approve ways to protect those with pre-existing medical conditions and, beyond that, find ways to preserve key provisions of the Affordable Care Act, with improvements.
Five: Appoint a nonpartisan (or at least bipartisan) Committee for the Restoration of Voting Integrity. Uniform standards must be set in stone for every voting jurisdiction in the nation to prevent meddling, sabotage, voter suppression and polling mistakes. There must be new laws to prevent the blatant partisan jiggering of legislative-district boundaries (aka gerrymandering).
Six: The Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill, rejected years ago, should be dusted off, tweaked and reconsidered for approval in 2020, if not now. Until they pass such a bill, illegal immigration, loopholes and anti-immigrant demonization and fear-mongering will continue. Strict, specific and fair laws allowing for legal immigration are essential.
Seven: Democrats should insist that Dreamers be allowed to stay in the nation, along with a way for them to attain full citizenship.
Eight: Make strides toward gun safety legislation, including mandatory universal background checks and a ban on military-assault style rifles for civilian use.
Nine: Work to make college more affordable and options for loan paybacks, including public service alternatives.
Ten: Pass a resolution condemning Saudi Arabia’s complicity in the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi and a condemnation of Trump’s business-as-usual comments in the wake of that sadistic crime.
Eleven: At long last, work to pass a bipartisan infrastructure bill.
The Democrats cannot afford to fritter away precious time with political bickering. That is exactly what their antagonists most hope for – divisive feuds among Democratic factions.
Voters elected Democrats partly as a repudiation of Trumpism but mostly because they are worried about the issues noted above, and more. If this new House can start solving even some of those problems, voters’ faith in them will be renewed by the next presidential election, and the restoration effort will continue, perhaps with help from a “Blue” U.S. Senate and a new president — one that unites, not divides.
Recharged with hope, voters will know the building blocks for the National Restoration are solidly in place.
Author: Dennis Dalman
Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.